Bombers baseball

Bombers players gather at the mound before the second inning of a game against Madisonville on July 13 at Shifley Park’s Jack Hicks Field.

Following a stupendous regular season that included 25 victories in 29 games, the Owensboro Post 9 Bombers are laser-focused on the American Legion Baseball State Tournament.

The Bombers begin state play at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday when they will be challenged by host Mayfield Post 26, a team they did not play during the regular season.

“For us to be able to win a state championship, we’re going to have to get through a lot of good front-line pitching from the teams we face,” Owensboro Post 9 manager Matt Freeman said.

“The key to us having success is pretty simple. We need to keep pounding the baseball at the plate, we need to throw strikes and limit walks on the mound, and we need to play error-free defense — each of these areas is important if you expect to win a state championship.”

The Bombers are led at the plate by a foursome of .400 hitters — outfielder-pitcher Harrison Bowman, outfielder-pitcher Braxton French, first baseman Dan St. Clair and third baseman Jordan Tolle. Starting pitchers include Cohl Proctor, Ethan Gibson, Hunter Payne and Brandon Davis, with Bowman and French heading up the bullpen.

Owensboro Post 9 is riding high entering the postseason.

“Fortunately, these kids have sustained a high level of play all summer long,” Freeman said. “This is especially significant when you consider the difficult schedule we’ve faced and the number of games we’ve played.

“This is a resilient team and it’s really been fun to be around them. This team has succeeded our expectations. We knew our pitching would be stronger this year than in the past, but the way we’ve hit the baseball all summer has been very impressive. We’ve kept the pressure on opponents throughout the season.”

In addition, the Bombers have had summer-long team chemistry.

“The way these players have bonded, gotten along, and pulled for each other has been one of the primary keys to our success,” Freeman said. “These kids either played baseball with each other or against each other at the high school level, and they’ve shown great respect and appreciation for one another.

“We have 16 players on our roster and, obviously, not everyone can play at once. So, the way our players have accepted their roles and the way they have been ready to contribute when called upon has been really special.

“Winning a lot of games helps, of course, but it’s still up to the individual to have that team-first attitude and we’ve been very, very fortunate to have a roster full of players who have bought into this concept — the enthusiasm on the field and on the bench has been fantastic.”

Other teams in the double-elimination tournament include Lyon County Post 68, Oldham County Post 39 and Madisonville Post 6.

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